How to deal with problem Woodpecker in Pennsylvania

Woodpecker (Pileated woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, Downy woodpecker)


Woodpeckers live throughout North America. There are more than 20 species including sapsuckers and flickers. Downy, hairy, and pileated woodpeckers cause the most damage to homes and other wooden structures. Woodpeckers are dependent on trees for shelter and food so they are generally found in or at the edge of woodlots and forests. Most are year-round residents. All woodpeckers have a sharp, heavy bill with a chisel-like tip for chipping and digging into trees. Woodpeckers mainly feed on wood-boring insects, grubs, eggs, and pupae, as well as ants, wasps, and bees found on trees. They also consume sap, nuts, seeds, and the fruits of some trees and shrubs when insects are not readily available. Woodpeckers peck cavities in trees, wooden structures, and even utility poles for nest and roost sites.

Laws and regulations to be aware of

Federal regulations

Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to federal regulations.

Migratory birds may seek respite within trees or on buildings considered private property. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 prohibits the removal of all listed species or their parts (feathers, eggs, nests, etc.) from such property.

Federal permit needed

A federal permit is needed to kill this species. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (413) 253-8643 or

While we attempt to provide guidance about state and federal regulations pertaining to specific species and control techniques, we do not provide information about local jurisdictions (city, town, county, etc.) where regulations may be more restrictive, especially as it applies to discharge of firearms, transport of animals or use of trapping equipment. Contact your local city or county government to inquire further. No guarantee is made that information (or lack of information) associated with a species or control technique is completely accurate or current. You should become familiar with federal, state and local laws before beginning any wildlife control activities.